Watson wins second straight Sheikh Hamdan Cup with Far Sky at Sharjah Longines Racecourse - GulfToday

Watson wins second straight Sheikh Hamdan Cup with Far Sky at Sharjah Longines Racecourse

Far Sky, ridden by George Buckell, races towards the finish line.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

The second meeting of the Sharjah Longines Racecourse’s season featured Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Cup, a 1700m handicap inaugurated as recently as 2018 and won this year by Far Sky, ridden by George Buckell, in the silks of Sky Racing for Doug Watson.

The only Thoroughbred race on the card, it was contested by a field of 15 but very few ever managed to land a blow with Bernardo Pinheiro and Rebel Streak setting a decent gallop until Buckell, having pretty much stalked the lead throughout, committed for home entering the short straight.

They were never going to be caught with Monoski finishing fast and late from the rear to snatch second.

A 4yo gelding son of Stay Thirsty, he has represented these owners and been with Watson throughout his career, winning for the second time on his 12th start.

He lost his maiden tag in April, in a 1400m Al Ain handicap, on his final start of last season. His first of this campaign was a month ago when a close fourth over 1400m at Jebel Ali.

Watson, who also won the race 12 months ago with Galvanize, was delighted to again win the race named in honour of the man who gave him his chance to train from Red Stables.

He said: “Obviously we are very pleased to win this race again and I owe Sheikh Hamdan so much and will be eternally grateful to him.

“That was a good performance from both horse and jockey in what looked like a decent race.”

For colts and gelding foaled in the UAE, the meeting kicked off with a 1200m maiden in which AF Yakhtem was able to make it third time lucky, probably always in front under Tadhg O’Shea, riding for his main employer, Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda and Ernst Oertel who trains the vast majority of the Champion Owner’s horses.

An identical race for fillies followed and a similar story unfolded with Wadeha opening her account at the third time of asking, making every post a winning one under Bernardo Pinheiro, the pair clear entering the final 300m. She was either tiring or getting lonely approaching the line but was never in danger of being caught.

Trained by Majed Al Jahoori for Al Wathba Racing, the homebred 3yo filly only made her debut at the end of October, finishing sixth here at Sharjah over 1000m. She then led her rivals a merry dance for 1000m at Al Ain before weakening to finish a distant fifth in a 1400m maiden that promised to prove a strong race of its type.

Owner and trainer promptly completed a double in the following 1000m handicap, this time with Omani apprentice Saif Al Balushi aboard Ashtr, a homebred 5yo entire winning for the second time.

Having led those racing on the standside, he seemed to get outpaced at halfway when Ashjaan shot clear on the far side but Al Balushi’s mount picked up in taking fashion over the final 300m, grabbing the initiative with about 175m remaining and the race was soon in safekeeping.

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